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Rep. Deb Mell plays down possibility of taking dad’s seat but doesn’t rule it out

Illinois Rep. Deborah Mell news conference with Lt. Gov. SheilSimJan. 2 ThompsCenter with marriage equality advocates who urged supporters make

Illinois Rep. Deborah Mell at a news conference with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon on Jan. 2 at the Thompson Center with marriage equality advocates who urged supporters make their voices heard on Illinois' marriage equality bill. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 8, 2013 6:25AM

SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Deborah Mell, the daughter of Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), soft-pedaled the possibility of assuming her father’s seat on the City Council but stopped well short of ruling out that possibility Sunday.

In her first extended public statements on the issue, the two-term state representative insisted that “nothing is going on”surrounding a potential move to the City Council and said she would weigh her options when — and if — her father decides to step down.

“When the time comes, we’ll deal with it then. But I love my community. I would love to represent it either way,” Mell told the Chicago Sun-Times after the Illinois House adjourned for the day Sunday.

The Sun-Times reported Friday that Richard Mell, the powerful chairman of the City Council’s Rules Committee and father-in-law of convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had told associates that he’s preparing to step down within the next few months after 38 years as an alderman.

Sources said Ald. Mell, 75, who lost his wife in 2006 and recently got engaged, already has persuaded Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint the alderman’s daughter to replace him in the City Council.

After the report, Emanuel acknowledged that he had talked to the alderman about his plan to retire, but they haven’t yet discussed his apparent political plan for his daughter.

On Friday, Emanuel said Deb Mell has done a “tremendous job on her own as a state rep” and “wherever she goes in public service, she’s gonna be an addition.”

Deb Mell said Sunday she thinks Emanuel best summarized the possibility surrounding her father’s on-again, off-again designs to retire from Chicago politics.

“I think the mayor said it really correctly where my dad’s been retiring for quite awhile now,” she said. “I don’t know what he would do, you know, if he wasn’t an alderman. I mean, I think he loves it. So I don’t know. And about me, I don’t know.”

Deb Mell, who has been in the middle of stalled efforts to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, said she is not quite sure what she would want to do if she weren’t a state legislator.

“You know, I’m really kind of focused on just what’s going on here right now.”

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